Auto-Generated HTML and Authoring Tools

Linas Vepstas (linas@intransco.com)
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 19:06:29 -0600


Message-ID: <32EFF3FB.5263690F@intransco.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 19:06:29 -0600
From: Linas Vepstas <linas@intransco.com>
To: megazone@livingston.com, czimmerm@NMSU.Edu, fepotts@fepco.com,
CC: www-html@www10.w3.org, linas@fc.net, keith@intransco.com
Subject: Auto-Generated HTML and Authoring Tools

Hi,

Can anyone enlighten me on the latest thinking regarding the 
interplay of auto-generated HTML and HTML authoring tools?

The problem is an ancient one: Programmer wants to generate HTML
automatically. The actual HTML generated depends on some formula, the
contents of a database, and the lunar calander.  Programmer's buddy is
an artist, and is going to make the HTML purty. Programmer doesn't want
to give the artist his raw C++/perl code, so instead creates
a pseudo-html thing which is almost pure html, except that it has
"variables" or "paramters" that the program will automatically fill
in with the right values.  Problem: the artist's WYSIWYG html tool
doesn't understand the pseudo-html extensions.  What to do?

This problem is as old as CGI scripts, and has been discussed on this
mailing list at various times, but still seems dead in the water.
Is anybody doing anything about this?

We have invented a simple solution for handling this, but are now
looking at enhancements.  Rather than inventing more new stuff, I want
to know what the wise and all-knowning standards bodies are doing
with regard to this.

Here are the various "solutions" that have been discussed:

-- use shell script variables
-- use server side includes
-- invent your own syntax (e.g. 
   templates --   http://204.157.166.19/html-cgi.html, 
   paramters -- http://wwwis.win.tue.nl/~wsinpim/parmpage.html

The problem with all of these is these is that there are no wysiwig
tools that can handle these correctly. The problem is further
exacerbated by the fact that none of these are sufficiently powerful
for general use (we are enhancing our stunt because of this).

I am stunned that the community has not agreed upon a standardized way
of handling this. Look at follies like wdb-genera, php-fi, or even the
latest Sybase and Oracle products which merge SQL into HTML!  Jeez, 
can't we let the artists do the artwork, and programmers do the SQL?

So where is the world on this? Does anybody have anything even
resembling a pseudo-proposal?

--linas